A dubious Greek gift

by Jonathan Speelman
1/20/2019 – Fittingly, since the Netherlands is the focus of the chess world this week, a Dutchman is featured in this week's Agony/Ecstasy column. Both games feature bishop sacrifices to attack the castled king. Feel free to send in your own games! Jon can always use more material from readers. If your games are selected for the Agony column, not only will you get free detailed commentary of your games by one of chess’s great authors and instructors, and former world no. 4 player, but you also win a free three-month ChessBase Premium Account! | Image: ChessBase 15 Raytracing

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Speelman's Agony #91

Many thanks first to everybody who's sent games into the drop box in recent weeks. Two requests though: Please include an email address so that I can contact you. And please use either PGN or a compressed ChessBase database CBV. (In ChessBase, click Menu→Database→Backup database, or hit Ctrl+Z.) 

This week's pair of games are by Jan Van den Berg a Dutchman who writes:

I'm from Rotterdam in the Netherlands and only found your articles recently, but always find them very interesting. I have recently turned 40, with two young daughters who are much more interested in playing tennis than chess. My wife, Maria, became concerned that my competitive cycling was taking too much time away from the family so she suggested that I start playing chess again, which I had enjoyed many years ago. She obviously has no idea...

I haven’t played a tournament game for a long time, but the two games I’ve included were both played recently online. Both feature bishop sacrifices to attack the castled king. One of them is excellent, the other is...not.

I am quite proud of the 'ecstasy' game. The sacrifice, which was planned a few moves earlier, was correct and later some tactics all seemed to work for me. The 'agony' game was the opposite. Though the sacrifice was not great, I eventually reached a position where I thought my threats would give me good chances. But my position fell apart after some good tactical finds by my opponent, and with some accurate defence, my fate was sealed. The game finishes with an excellent combination by Black.

Jan annotated both games excellently, mainly using his own ideas but occasionally including some “engine-generated subtleties.” I've left his notes almost completely intact and added a few comments of my own which I've scrupulously marked as by JS.

These were a very enjoyable pair of games to work on and please do keep sending me your own either to the drop box or direct to my email.

We start with the Agony:


Click or tap the second game in the list below the board to switch

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Did you enjoy the column and instructive analysis by GM Jonathan Speelman? Do you wish you could have a world-renowned grandmaster analysing your play? You can!

To submit your games just upload a PGN or ChessBase file (.pgn or .cbv archive), along with your name and e-mail address. Send one success story (Ecstasy) and one loss (Agony).

Tell why you chose them, where or when they were played. Please do include your email address, so Jon can reply, and preferably a photo of yourself for our article.

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See also:

Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.


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